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Agenda item

Clifton Ings Flood Alleviation Barrier to the South of Shipton Road, Rawcliffe, York YO30 5RY [19/00007/FULM]

Construction of new and improved flood defence works, compensatory habitat creation and other associated works (Clifton Ings Barrier Bank Project) [Rawcliffe and Clifton Without Ward] [Site Visit]



Members considered a major full application from the Environment Agency (EA) for the construction of new and improved flood defence works, compensatory habitat creation and other associated works (Clifton Ings Barrier Bank Project) at Clifton Ings Flood Alleviation Barrier to the south of Shipton Road, Rawcliffe, York.


The Development Management Officer outlined the scheme, explaining the existing embankment at Clifton Ings Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and access to the site. He demonstrated how the embankment would be extended and the location of the pumping station.


The Development Management Officer then provided an officer update in which Members were advised of:


·        The relocation of the sustrans route.


·        Clarification of amounts of SSI compensation (from the SSSI mitigation strategy).


·        A change to Condition 11 requiring the approval of the construction management details requiring measures to prevent dust affecting use of the Clifton Alliance Cricket Ground.


·        The Secretary of State request to remain informed of the Council’s determination of the application and may decide to call-in the application should members be minded to approve the scheme.


·        The receipt of further representations, to which an update was given.


·        The additional information had been assessed and the planning balance and the recommendation remained unchanged from the published report. 


In response to questions from the Committee, officers explained that:

·        There were multiple reasons why the EA had chosen the option in the application and there would still be damage to the SSSI if more of the re-profiling were on the “dry” side.


·        Taking into account climate change allowance to 2039, the modelling indicates that Clifton Ings would permanently increase the risk of flooding to the car park on Frederic Street and residential properties on Marygate.


·        The future flood defence  works on Marygate had not been approved but the scheme was in development along with a number of other schemes.


·        The EA had matrices of information they took into account when looking at options for flood alleviation.


·        Sheet piling had been used elsewhere in Yorkshire.


·        Mitigation for the SSSI was complicated. In respect of whether there were examples of this elsewhere, this had been done but there was a mixed picture and no scientific research.


·        The Friends of Rawcliffe Meadow had been working on the meadow for 25 years.


·        Rawcliffe Meadow was nationally important. An explanation of the habitat loss was given.


·        The SSSI mitigation work would require a specialist and detailed botanical monitoring would be needed.


·        The council had requested conditions for the SSSI mitigations work and there would be long term input in terms of monitoring. The council would need to work with the EA in terms of resourcing the monitoring the SSSI mitigation work.


·        With reference to the objections from Treemendous York, the EA had proposed a good level of mitigation for the loss of trees. The hedgerows along Clifton Park Hospital would be retained where possible but there was some uncertainty about this.


Dr Mick Phythian (York Natural Environment Trust CIO) spoke in objection to the application. He explained that the Friends of Rawcliffe Meadow (FORM) had been involved with the meadow since 1990 and had received minimal support from the EA. He noted that there had been a lack of information from the EA on the option appraisal, particularly in terms of the dry side of the river. He added that FORM had not been consulted and he raised and listed a number of questions why Members should defer both applications.


Dr Mick Phythian was asked and explained that:


·        FORM had never been consulted by the EA on the option appraisal. Their relationship with the EA had not been good.


·        FORM had spent many years planting trees and hedgerows.


·        There was an eco-system at the site which would be missed and the type of grassland on Rawcliffe Meadow was sequestrian for carbon reduction.


·        The funding that form received from Natural England (NE) would end when the EA started work on the site. The full grant that FORM received for the work on the site was £6-7,000.


·        The SSSI mitigation measures would only be a success through intensive work. An explanation of what this would be involved was given.


·        Regarding the mitigation strategy, NE still required information that had not been submitted for example, information on the tansy beetle and NG4 grassland. There were a range of documents that needed to be seen before the application could be considered.


Bob Taylor (Trustee of Clifton Alliance Cricket Club) spoke about the impact of the scheme on the cricket club. He noted the background and membership of the club. He expressed concern that the site boundary extended into the playing area of the club and noted that the issues regarding dust and disturbance could affect the status of the level of cricket played at the club.


In answer to Member questions, officers explained that the Condition 11 contains the required construction management details to be approved and requires measures to prevent dust affecting use of the Clifton Alliance Cricket Ground. 

If members consider it necessary we can add to this; to specifically include the requirement for protective fencing (to control dust) and for measures to be agreed to ensure construction work does not occur in the local area after 12 (noon) on Saturdays during the cricket season.


Mr Taylor was asked and confirmed that it would not be possible for Clifton Alliance Cricket Club to share facilities with York Sports Club.


Richard Lever (Environment Agency) spoke in support to the application. He noted that 600 homes in York flooded following the 2015 floods. He explained that the proposed scheme would protect 134 properties and a route into York. He advised that if the scheme was not progressed, under the Reservoirs Act 1975 the EA would be able to undertake the work. He noted that there were unavoidable impacts to the SSSI, adding that NE had not objected to the scheme and that the scheme would protect properties.


Mr Lever was asked and explained:


·        The project was one of nineteen in York.


·        There was a flood alleviation scheme for the Museum Gardens and Marygate flood cell, although planning permission for this had not been granted yet.


·        Consultation with residents was carried out and an explanation of this was given.


·        The constraints of the site and rationale for using wet and dry sides.


·        The EA had its own specialists and consultants to oversee the mitigation measures. Supporting the environment was part of the core work of the EA.


·        The mitigation plans would be put into the capital scheme.


·        There were vehicles of payment to FORM through a business tenancy agreement should their funding from Natural England cease as a direct consequence of the EA works.


·        The work of FORM was acknowledged. It was hoped that the EA would find ways of working with FORM.


·        The reasons for not selecting sheet piling was explained as being part of the scoring process for options which were considered under EA regulations.


·        There would be compression across the access routes on the site.


·        The meadow would be lifted and moved. It would be returned after the works had finished.


·        If the scheme was not given approval it was highly likely that the remedial work to stabilise the existing would go ahead in any event, without the enhanced protection the proposed scheme would deliver.


·        EA compliance with the conditions would be monitored through the EAs own internal metrics and reporting systems.


Warwick Dale (Jacobs) spoke in support to the application. He read out a statement from the Reservoir Supervising Engineer, who was unable to attend the meeting. In the statement it was explained why the construction work was required. It was confirmed that should the remedial work not be carried out, the Reservoir Supervising Engineer would call a Section 10 inspection which is likely to impose a measure in the interests of safety under the Reservoirs Act 1975 on the EA to remediate the barrier bank. It was added that an action raised as a measure of safety under a Section 10 inspection was legally enforceable. 


Mr Dale was asked and confirmed that it was not for the supervising engineer to dictate the method by which the construction is undertaken, only that the improvements are made. Sheet piling may be an appropriate option.


In response to points raised during debate, the Flood Risk Manager clarified the scheme was part of a scheme for the whole of York. He added that the reservoir was inspected annually by an inspector and measures could be put in place and works carried out as necessary. As part of this, the EA would still need to liaise with NE on the works. These works would be carried out under capital maintenance to the current standard of protection and not the new level of protection.


It was suggested that the application be deferred and the Senior Solicitor clarified on what grounds a deferral could be made. It was proposed and seconded that the application be deferred on the grounds that further information was required from the EA on the mitigation strategy and the management strategy for the SSSI. On being put to the vote this motion fell.


It was then proposed and seconded that the application be refused. On being put to the vote this motion fell.


It was then proposed and seconded that the application be approved with an additional condition to delegate to officers the working of the S106 funding, to include liaison between the stakeholders (including FORM) on the mitigation of the scheme. On being put to the vote it was:


Resolved: That the application be approved subject to the conditions listed in the report, amended Condition 11 and additional condition:


Condition 11

The requirement that with regards noise and dust the CEMP shall include details of measures to ensure Saturday working (after 12 noon) is controlled so as not to have an adverse effect on Clifton Alliance Cricket Club.


Additional condition

A requirement that the proposed mitigation for damage to the SSSI be subject to consultation with an advisory board, which would include FoRM.  The condition was as follows -


Applications for approval of details related to conditions 3, 4, 5, & 6 shall include details as to how the Advisory Board have been consulted and involved in the required strategies and plans.


For the purpose of this condition the advisory board shall consist of, but not be limited to, the following bodies or their successors - City of York Council, Natural England, Flood Plain Meadows Partnership and Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows.


The required details shall explain how the members of the board have been consulted, their comment on each element of the relevant strategy or plan and how these have been considered in formulation of the submitted strategy or plan (alternatively evidence they have declined to be involved).


Reason:     To ensure that the proposed mitigation strategy has the optimum chance of achieving the desired outcomes in order to comply with section 15 of the NPPF, in particular paragraph 175 to minimise harm to biodiversity resulting from the development.



                         i.    The works are required due to issues with the stability of the existing bank and as part of a wider programme to improve flood defences throughout the city.  The existing barrier bank requires repair and such works cannot be undertaken without an adverse effect on the SSSI.  The flood defence no longer protects the area from the 1 in 100 year flood / AEP 1% event.   


                        ii.    The works to the existing barrier bank would have an adverse effect on a SSSI that, according to the NPPF, should not normally be permitted.  Also as the site is in the Green Belt very special circumstances are necessary which clearly outweigh the identified harm to the Green Belt, as a consequence of the new pumping station and larger barrier bank, which have an adverse effect on openness and the other identified harm.


                      iii.    The re-profiling of the barrier bank will affect a further 0.9ha of the 25.1ha of grassland within the SSSI.  There are adequate grounds as to why this development can’t take place outside of the SSSI and this scheme delivers benefit by improving the level of protection for the area; to the extent that it is defended during the 1 in 100 year flood and, compared to the existing defence, reduces the area, and number of properties that would be at risk, during the AEP 0.1% event / 1 in 1000 year flood.  


                      iv.    The proposals involve mitigation on site where possible and otherwise compensated for at Rawcliffe Ings.   The recommended conditions are as robust as possible in terms of securing compensatory grassland and rehabilitation of areas affected by the proposals.  The conditions will require long-term management of the site and ongoing monitoring to ensure delivery of the mitigation and compensatory habitat.  Furthermore the conditions will secure adequate mitigation for the impact on ecology outside of the SSSI and ensure any loss of trees and hedgerows is compensated for; at a rate of at least 1:1, and aiming for 1:3 provided this is consistent with other environmental objectives for the site and site constraints.  


                       v.    Approval is recommended because the proposed works will bring significant community benefit, by reducing flood risk to a considerable area.  Combined with the proposed mitigation there is deemed to be adequate justification for the adverse effect on the SSSI, which may only be permitted in exceptional circumstances, as set out in NPPF paragraph 175.


Supporting documents:


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